Featured September 17, 2012 | heritagenews.com Ann Arbor Journal

Two physician groups have joined the University of Michigan Health System in choosing a system to securely access electronic health data, contributing to a regional and national effort to create clinical exchange between health providers.

UMHS partners IHA Health Services Corp., an Ann Arbor-based multi-specialty group practice, and Huron Valley Physicians Association have announced they will also join the nonprofit Great Lakes Health Information Exchange.

Participation in GLHIE will allow physicians to have secure, real-time access to health and demographic information for new patients, helping prevent medical errors and avoid test duplications.

Partner providers will be able to receive data on patients from multiple sources, including different hospitals the patient has visited.

Among patient data that will, over time, become available to physicians through GLHIE are hospital admission, hospital discharge, and transfer notifications; inpatient notes; outpatient encounter documents; radiology results; laboratory results; emergency department summaries; and hospital discharge summaries.

“This modern health information exchange system will radically change the way physicians are able to share health records,” said Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, chief medical information officer for UMHS, in a news release.

“The ultimate goal is to speed up access to critical health documents while reducing costs and improving coordinated, high-quality care. Joining a health information exchange like GLHIE is the cornerstone of that effort for us.”

Currently, Rosenberg says, physicians must specifically request data from each source and then wait for the information to be faxed. UMHS is encouraging referring physicians to join the GLHIE network to speed up these exchanges.

“GLHIE offers us an incredibly sophisticated technology to share reports and reduce inefficiencies in a way we’ve never done before,” Rosenberg said.

“When a patient comes to us, we can immediately see which tests they’ve had and that we don’t need to repeat, as well as which hospitals they’ve been to, their allergies and any other health history.”

“This will increase access and availability of critical results and basic information all providers will find useful, especially for patients referred from another health provider. Having key partners like IHA and HVPA join this network will be an important method for exchanging information.”

IHA is one of the leading and largest multi-specialty groups in Michigan, employing more than 1,100 staff that includes physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives across 35 practices in southeastern Michigan.

HVPA has more than 600 physician members located in Washtenaw, Livingston, Lenawee and western Wayne counties.

“IHA is looking forward to building on our important relationship with UMHS,” said IHA Vice President of Information Technology Chris Holda.

“With our Electronic Health Record Patient Portal, and now GLHIE, we continue to improve on our ability to provide quality care to our patients. Through GLHIE, our expanded technical and data capabilities will allow us to have access to critical information about our patients, leading to better and more coordinated care for our patients.”

The new agreements between GLHIE and the physician groups come as UMHS, IHA and several HVPA practices participate in a Pioneer Accountable Care Organization, a new model designed to offer better care to beneficiaries through a partnership with Medicare.

The ACO model offers incentives for groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to coordinate care for patients and reduce costs. Providers would also share in financial risks, a great incentive to reduce inefficiencies such as unnecessary duplicate tests.

“The addition of IHA and HVPA to our network signifies that we are on the right path to helping with the ultimate goal of creating a network allowing physicians to share health records across the country,” said GLHIE Executive Director Carol Parker.

For more about the University of Michigan ACO, visit online.